LONDON — Britain’s Ministry of Defence is to increase the ability of naval support ships to defend themselves against swarms of fast attack craft and other threats.
The MoD said it has signed a deal with Raytheon to supply five Phalanx 1B close-in weapon systems for fitting to Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships.
All five weapons systems are scheduled to be delivered next year. Babcock Marine will install and support the weapons in service.
The 42.8 million pound ($68.57 million) deal includes an option to buy a further seven Phalanx weapons later, according to information published in the MoD’s Contract Bulletin.
The close-in weapon systems are being purchased to increase the protection of vessels going into potentially high-threat areas like the Arabian Gulf.
A statement released by the MoD said the Gatling gun was capable of defending ships against threats such as “groups of gunboats.”
Swarms of small high-speed attack craft are a capability developed by Iran and aimed at overwhelming the defenses of opposition naval forces.
A spokesman for the MoD declined to name the vessels the gun systems would be fitted to.
Five Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships — including the landing ship dock Cardigan Bay, the oiler Wave Knight and the stores ship Fort Victoria — are each fitted with two Phalanx systems.
Phalanx is an automatic self-contained weapon system capable of defending warships against surface missile, helicopter and other threats. Fourteen of the systems are fitted to Royal Navy vessels, including the new Type 45 destroyer.